I work full time. Not as a writer, but as a payroll officer.
Many of my colleagues know I write and they often ask me how I find time to do all of my writing activities. My usual reply is “It can be hard - work takes up all of my free time.”
It’s the same story for so many writers; at least to start with. Many writers don’t make enough in sales to entertain the thought of leaving paid employment, so work and writing just has to get along. In the past couple of years I’ve established a routine that allows me time to write each day.
Note I say allows me time.
Here’s a surprise - you don’t have to write every single day to be a ‘real’ writer. Throw that rule about having to write every day out the window right now! It’s good if you can write every day, but it’s not compulsory. Sometimes I come home so brain-drained that it’s hard to think about writing, let alone do it. Don’t beat up on yourself! You miss a day here and there? So what! It’s not the end of the world. The absolute last thing you want to do is drive yourself so hard you become burned out. It’s not worth it.
So, this is how I make time to write.
Morning or evening?
I’m a morning person, so I get up early each day - as in 5.30 am - to give me time to get a few words down before I go to work. I find it puts me in a good mood, which makes my work day start better. I also write most evenings - anything from ten minutes worth to a couple of hours. It really depends on what kind of day I’ve had.
Silence is golden
Turn your phone, iPad, tablet, etc, onto silent. My phone allows exceptions, so family can still call if there is an emergency. Teach loved ones to stay away (unless they’re bringing you a cup of tea) and leave you to do your writing.
At this point I would like to acknowledge all those who write with young children around. My kids are grown, so I’ve never experienced what that is like. It would not be easy, and you have my respect!
I keep my laptop on flight mode, so there’s no quick way to ‘just check’ social media sites. With the iPad and phone on silent, I’m not tempted to reach for them either as there are no notification ‘pings’ to distract me.
Oh weekend, I love you! This is the perfect opportunity to get some serious word counts happening. I rarely sit down for a long session though. It’s more a case of a few bursts of writing during the day - usually an hour or two at a time. Again, I don’t want to overload myself. I have to keep in mind that I need some time to be lazy.
It’s not unknown for me to take a day, or even a half day, of annual leave during quiet times to get some writing done. Last Wednesday was a perfect example. Things were quiet at work and I knew I only had a couple of thousand words to do to finish the first draft of a book. I took a day off and completed the book. I’m extremely lucky that both my line manager and team manager support me in my writing endeavours, so they have no qualms letting me take my leave this way.
No, they’re not that supportive that I can ignore my in-tray and write all day at my work desk. I have twenty minutes each for morning and afternoon tea, plus an hour for lunch. If I have words bursting to be written, then that’s another ideal time to do it. Have I mentioned how supportive my colleagues are? They have no problems with me opening a blank word document a typing during my breaks, and then uploading it to Dropbox ready for downloading again that evening at home.
That’s pretty much it for me. By implementing the above, I’ve written five novels in a little over two years, plus a couple of short stories. The trick is to find what works for you, and stick with it. If you have any tips you’d like to share, please do so!
Take care, Alison
Giveaway! Three copies of my first novel, Roses, are currently listed as Giveaways on Goodreads. Check it out here, and nominate yourself for a copy! The Giveaway ends in two weeks...
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